Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Jam, jars and freshly hatched chicks

Today we jammed! Hoods' strawberries happen to be the best strawberries ever grown and today we made delicious twice baked strawberry jam out of two flats of 'em. Hoods can only be harvested for about two weeks every June and my childhood is full of memories spent bent over in a field, picking flat after flat for my grandmother and her ingenious jam making hands. She'd make enough to slather my toast every day for the next year. They're small and succulent, those strawberries are (not my grandma's hands, those were large and strong) and are delightful fresh off the vine or stewed in sugar. Hood strawberries are a little bit harder to procure in these days of super market produce and California grown berries. My mom tracked down a local farm and paid the hefty fee for two flats of heaven. We woke early and began our jamming adventure by 8am today. As I've never canned before, today was a day of experimentation and burns. 9 hours in, we're left with 42 jars of jam, 5 scorch marks along my inner arm and a little bit more preserving wisdom.

At feeding time this evening, Nik was met with a happy surprise as he discovered that our broody hen Nineve - a black Australorp, had hatched her first little clutch of Delaware eggs. 6 of her 7 chicks hatched and are in perfect health. Nineve is a wonderful Mama, having forsaken any outside romping for the security of her nest for the past 21 days. She turned them dutifully every hour or so, fed only rarely and has now proven to be a protective caregiver to her adopted offspring. Yay Nineve!

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